10 Unexpected Bedside Tables

If you’ve listened to the podcast, you know that we get lots of decorating dilemmas about bedrooms. Something we’re always suggesting is to mix up your bedroom pieces so they don’t match. Often we’ll suggest splitting up nightstands and headboards from a set and putting them in different bedrooms. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to buy new nightstands. We love using unconventional pieces next to the bed. Here are some of our favorite ways to change up your look.

1. Desks

If you’ve got a small space, you may want a surface to use as a desk or vanity. We love using a desk next to a bed in place of a nightstand. It also makes a perfect makeup vanity or spot to hold jewelry.

Use a large wicker basket next to a bed in place of a nightstand | Ballard Designs

2. A Large Basket or Chest

Think outside the box. Nearly anything can be a bedside table if it’s the right height. You want no more than 5″ difference from the top of your mattress to the surface of your nightstand. Depending on whether you have a box spring or a platform bed, that can be a variety of heights. Our Traveler’s Wicker Chest is 24″ high, which makes it the perfect height for most beds.

3. Shelves

If you’re tight on space, consider a wall-mounted shelf instead of a nightstand. In the space on the left, we used a wooden shelf paired with a small side table. The table can be moved around when you don’t need it. In the room on the right, built in shelves lined the wall so we placed the headboard right up against them. The shelves became the perfect bedside table.

A standing etagere serves as a bedside table in this bedroom designed by Suzanne Kasler | Ballard Designs

4. An Etagere

We love this bedroom designed by Suzanne Kasler. She used a white etagere next to the bed instead of a bedside table. Not only does it work beautifully with the height of the canopy bed, but it provides tons of open shelving for books, trinkets, candles, and anything else that might accumulate in your bedroom.

5. A Pedestal Table

In a master bedroom, you’ll likely want drawers or shelves, but in a guest bedroom, you can get away with less storage. A pedestal table works beautifully if you’re short on space since it doesn’t feel as heavy as a nightstand.

Bunching tables as a nightstand in a bedroom | Ballard Designs

6. Bunching or Nesting Tables

We love stacking bunching tables next to the bed. It brings lots of shapes, texture, and open surface to the bedside, but because the bottom is open it doesn’t weigh the room down. 

7. Skirted Tables

If you love a soft, feminine look, a skirted table should be your first choice. The draping fabric feels luxurious and elegant. Plus, you can also switch up the fabric easily to freshen up your space.

8. A Secretary

If you’re looking for a multi-functional furniture piece that can work in nearly any room of the house, look no further than a secretary. It works beautifully in an entry for sorting mail, can display china in a dining room if it has a hutch, and next to the bed, the fold down surface makes the perfect bedside table. We love our Abbott Drop Front Desk for it’s perky blue interior.

9. An Acrylic Table

Looking to bring a modern edge to your bedroom? We love using an acrylic side table because it disappears but brings a sparkly quality to a space. Tuck a cube underneath for an extra spot to store books or magazines, or leave it empty to reduce visual clutter in a petite boudoir.

10. A Chest of Drawers

Want to maximize storage in your bedroom? Use a chest of drawers next to the bed — it’s a great place to store off-season sweaters or bed linens. Suzanne Kasler used this wooden campaign chest in a kids bedroom in the 2014 Southern Living Idea House, and Lauren Liess used an antique chest in the master bedroom of the 2016 Idea House.

Browse our full furniture collection and find your own unconventional bedside table, or find more inspiration in the Get Inspired section of our website.

Caroline McDonald

Caroline lives for pairing together patterns, mixing furniture styles, and oogling over our newest furniture pieces. As you can imagine, her little 1920's craftsman is in a constant state of flux. Here on How to Decorate, it's her goal to help you turn your home into your own little slice of paradise.